President Donald Trump, after a series of administration missteps on the Holocaust and Jewish history, decried anti-Semitism at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance Tuesday at the United States Capitol, promising the audience he will “confront anti-Semitism.”
“I am deeply moved to stand beside people who survived history’s darkest hour. Your cherished presence transforms this place into a sacred gathering,” Trump said, reading from prepared remarks.
He added, “The state of Israel is an eternal monument to the undying strength of the Jewish people. The fervent dream that burned in the hearts of the oppressed is now filled with the breath of life, and the Star of David waves atop a great nation arisen from the desert.”
Trump’s speech to honor victims of the Holocaust comes weeks after his press secretary diminished Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in an attempt to shame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and months after his White House failed to mention International Holocaust Remembrance Day didn’t mention Jews or anti-Semitism. The remarks offer the President an opportunity to write over these missteps, which angered Jewish groups, including the museum that will host the Trump speech.
“We will never, ever be silent in the face of evil again. Denying the Holocaust is only one of many dangerous forms of anti-Semitism that continues all around the world,” Trump said. “This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism. We will stamp out prejudice, we will condemn hatred, we will bear witness and we will act. As President of the United States, I will always stand with the Jewish people, and I will always stand with our great partner and friend, the state of Israel.”
Trump, whose administration has been plagued with accusations of anti-Semitism, has shown he is particularly sensitive to charges of anti-Semitism in his administration.
Asked about the rise of anti-Jewish crimes since his election, Trump told a Jewish reporter to “sit down” during a news conference in February before defending himself as “the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”
“I hate the charge. I find it repulsive,” Trump said. “I hate even the question because people that know me – and you heard the Prime Minister, you heard Benjamin Netanyahu, did you hear him, Bibi?”
Bomb threats have been on the rise in the United States and Canada since January, a fact some Jewish groups attribute to Trump’s campaign and presidency.
Those accusations were not helped when White House press secretary Sean Spicer was forced to apologize earlier this month after he incorrectly said Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons” during World War II and seemingly called concentration camps “Holocaust centers.”
The comments, which led to a quick apology from the press secretary, were decried by Jewish groups: The Anti-Defamation League asked Spicer and the White House to take a course on Holocaust in response.
“I was obviously trying to make a point about the heinous acts that Assad had made against his own people last week, using chemical weapons and gas. Frankly, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which there is no comparison,” Spicer said. “And for that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that.”
The United State Holocaust Museum, the group hosting Tuesday’s event, quickly respond to Spicer’s comment with a tweet the highlighted footage taken from liberated concentration camps.
The museum will also unveil a new research center during Trump’s appearance, a forum that will include details records and artifacts donated by Jews who were persecuted by Hitler during the Holocaust.
Charges of anti-Semitism have followed Trump since the 2016 campaign, when some of his top aides – including strategist Steve Bannon – were accused of making anti-Jewish comments and the campaign was criticized for being slow to reject support from David Duke, an anti-semitic politician and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
Trump, despite his initial bristling at charges of anti-Semitism, has begun to speak out about the issue. In a video for a World Jewish Congress event on Sunday, Trump said the “mind cannot fathom the pain, the horror, and the loss” of the Holocaust.
“We must stamp out prejudice and anti-Semitism everywhere it is found,” he said. “We must defeat terrorism, and we must not ignore the threats of a regime that talks openly of Israel’s destruction. We cannot let that ever even be thought of.”
Trump’s inclusion at the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s event has riled some Jewish groups, too.
Bend The Arc Jewish Action, a nonprofit organization and political group, posted an open letter earlier this week asking the Holocaust museum to disinvite the President.
“President Trump’s administration has repeatedly insulted the memory of the Holocaust, and embraced the agenda and rhetoric of white nationalism and antisemitism,” the letter reads. “So how can the U.S. Holocaust Museum invite him to deliver the keynote remarks at the National Day of Remembrance?”
So far, the letter has close to 8,000 signatures.
CNN’s Elissa Nunez contributed to this report.